History


Down Ballot Wisconsin Elections

Voters also need to pay attention to the “down ballot” statewide offices. In Wisconsin, the Attorney General, State Treasurer and Secretary or State are independently elected offices. The Attorney General is obviously an important office and gets some voter attention. But most people know nothing about the other two. This year ignoring these obscure offices could have serious ramifications. Republicans have spent years weakening and underfunding all three of the these elected offices. This has included trying to abolish both the Treasurer and Secretary of State ...

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The Fruits of Faulty Judgment

“I'm just a miner in the mother lode of misery, where the fruits of faulty judgment meet the spoils of bad luck.” From the song “King of Junk” by Eddy Lawrence This humorous song is about a junk yard owner who's good fortune is the result of others' faulty judgment and bad luck. He finds a “hidden trove of riches mid the mangled and the maimed” wreckage of cars. I like the poetry of the song. To me it speaks (out of context) to much of the current craziness in our society. Politics has always been ugly and partisan. But the angry divisions are getting ...

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Victories for Justice

We have two victories in the struggle for justice and social progress to celebrate. I am referring to the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court and the enactment of the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act. Martin Luther King claimed the “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But too often it has been hard to find much evidence for his optimism. Reading the news is more likely to bend one toward drink, cynicism and misanthropy than hope for the future. As a society, we have a long way to go to achieve liberty and ...

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Pearl Harbor and American militarism

Many times in our history we have failed to see how our actions contribute to conflicts.

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Build it and they will use it

The New York Times reported that in 1958, U.S. military leaders had plans to use nuclear weapons against China. Daniel Ellsberg (who leaked the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War in 1971) recently posted online a secret document showing Pentagon leaders were willing to use nuclear weapons to stop China from attacking the Republic of China on Taiwan.

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Earth Day has its roots in Wisconsin

Wisconsin and Earth Day go back a long way together. Truth be told, without Wisconsin, Earth Day might not even exist. Dismayed by a disastrous oil spill off the coast of California in 1969, our own Senator Gaylord Nelson conceived and set in motion the gears that made Earth Day 1970 a phenomenon to be reckoned with.

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Black history in Wisconsin

The writing of the the state constitution involves Black suffrage. In 1846, a first draft of the constitution allowed black men to vote. This draft was not adopted. The successful 1848 State Constitution explicitly barred Black men from voting while it allowed all white men, even immigrants who were not citizens, to vote. After statehood, three referendums were held on suffrage for Black men (1849, 1857, and 1865). All were defeated. Citizenship was defined as being white and male.

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Contaminated brownfields: how did it come to this in America?

The business is long gone, the buildings removed but the aftermath is not.  Left behind is a “brownfield,” a nice word for a site contaminated with deadly poisons, and no one left to pay for clean-up if that’s even possible. And what to do with it once it is cleaned up? Another industrial site, another fence line community in the poorer part of town where the people of color live. There are thousands of brownfields all over America. How did it come to this? No one intended to damage the Earth and make humans sick. We blundered into it.

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The return of the dumb terminal

Starting in the late 1960’s a little understood corner of the United States government began developing a means of connecting geographically separated research labs and universities. These remote computers allowed researchers to more quickly share data between projects and allowed research to work on projects without being required to be in the same room, or even the same state. The more complex this network became, the more obvious it became that system administrators needed to connect to and control computers without being on the remote computer’s keyboard. This is ...

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Capella: four stars that appear to be one

As I mentioned in the February 1st issue article about the constellation Auriga the Charioteer, the name Capella means “female goat” or “little female goat” in Latin. Like many objects visible to us in the night sky, Capella is not just a single star. It consists of two binary pairs. A binary pair is two stars revolving around a common center, somewhat like two ice skaters holding hands while they spin.

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